Back pain is a common complaint to physicians and chiropractors and it is the top musculoskeletal complaint of the general population. Back pain may be caused by spinal conditions such as disc herniation, sciatica, and others, but the most common cause seen is improper lifting form, which leads to muscle tension and subsequently injury to the soft tissues. When these happen, there may be muscle strains and sprains as well as tearing of some tissues leading to inflammation and pain.
To prevent back pain, proper body mechanics is the most important approach especially during lifting. The following are some of the most essential tips in order to achieve the proper lifting form for the prevention of back injuries and pain:
• Plan your work before lifting
When lifting, the path should be cleared, equipments are ready and supportive devices are properly secured and used. Before lifting, make sure that your path is clear and you are geared with the right device depending on the weight of the object.
• Position your feet appropriately
Your feet are the base of support so positioning them in the right manner can provide you with a more stable position when lifting. Your feet should be one foot apart or better yet, shoulder width apart. This will allow you to balance your weight better since feet that are too close can be easily tumbled down.
• Start your lift in the right position
When lifting from the floor, never start in a standing position as this allows your waist to bend and your back to be overly stretched. Make sure to stand as close as possible to the object and bend at your knees to reach for the object on the floor.
• Maintain a straight back
Make sure that your back is erect when picking up the object and never bend. Bending is the most common cause of back injuries so keeping them erect will help you maintain the normal anatomic position of the spine.
• Use your abdominal muscles for help
Instead of using your back muscles when lifting, using your abdominal muscles is less dangerous. As you try to stand erect when lifting, contract your abdominal muscles for a stronger effort to lift.
• Lift with your legs as you lift the object
Most of the tension should be placed on your feet and not on your back or arms. As you grasp the object and stand up, push your feet against the floor while straightening the knees to stand up. In this way, your feet and legs lift the weight and never your back.
• Keep the object close to your body
When you are already in a standing position, make the object closer to your body. This allows the weight to be distributed to your body and avoids the tension to be put on the shoulders and arms alone.
• Maintain your arms as straight as possible
When moving the object, never bend your elbow joint because this will strain the soft tissues on the elbows. Keep your arms straight down to your body while grasping the object.
To ensure a safe and effective lift, these tips are very essential. However, aside from these, make sure that you are geared with adequate lumbar support while lifting especially if lifting heavy objects is a part of your work.